Only an inspired ride by Barry Geraghty on Hadrian's Approach denied The Druid's Nephew a winning start over fences at Ascot. The step up to 3m won't be a problem for Andy Turnell's five-year-old but Geraghty may prove his nemesis again here on board SPIRIT RIVER. Having fallen twice and been tailed off in three starts over the larger obstacles, the latter needs to improve to land this but he's sure to have had plenty of schooling over the summer and remains a potentially interesting novice this season. So Fine should win races over fences and is worth following while Barlow also has scope but Firm Order has become disappointing and stablemate Lemon's Gent may need this.
Barlow (IRE) 9-1 (10-10) Mid-division, headway on inside approaching 6th, not fluent 3 out, weakened before next, 19th of 23, well behind Bondage (10-13) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gs in Oct.
Firm Order (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Led, ridden and headed 4 out, chased winner, weakened and lost 2nd 2 out, blundered last, 4th of 9, 46l behind Loch Ba (11-5) at Kempton 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs.
Lemon's Gent 9-2 (11-6) Tracked leaders, went 2nd and not fluent 4 out, ridden before 3 out, soon weakened, 6th of 7, well behind Lost Glory (11-12) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) sft in Jun.
So Fine (IRE) 6-1 (10-6) Mid-division on inside, struggling 3 out, 9th last, no impression, 9th of 20, 27l behind Action Master (10-6) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Oct.
Spirit River (FR) 10-1 (11-7) Ran loose before start, mid-division, outpaced 4 out, weakened before next, behind when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Cape Tribulation (11-12) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Apr, 21 ran.
The Druids Nephew (IRE) 13-2 (11-2) Tended to jump left, led, joined and pressed 2 out, kept on gamely, headed post, 2nd of 9, ns behind Hadrian's Approach (11-2) at Ascot 2m 3f Beginners Chase (0-140) (4yo+) (3) gs.
Worth The Stretch 50-1 (11-4) In tiuch, slow 2nd and lost place, struggling under pressure 12th, tailed off and pulled up 3 out, in a race won by Masters Hill (11-4) at Chepstow 3m nov chs (4) gs in Oct, 6 ran.